Biden eyes ex-Obama team to ‘tackle’ antitrust issues

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Two former Obama staffers have emerged as front-runners to the top antitrust job at the US Department of Justice under the incoming administration of Joe Biden, based on two sources with knowledge of the issue.

Among the picks is Renata Hesse, who’s had several stints at the Justice Department since 2002 and most recently served as the Acting Assistant Attorney General by mid-2016 to Jan. 2017. She also has held private business functions and advised on topics involving companies like Amazon and Google.

More notably, Hesse advised Amazon about its more than $13 billion acquisition of supermarket Whole Foods, based on her bio on the website of New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where she is currently a partner.

Her function could pose conflict of interest issues as the Justice Department pursues its widely-followed case against Google, the sources said. The Justice Department sued Google on Oct. 20, accusing the $1 trillion business of dominating advertising and search.

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Arteaga also has held private sector functions and advised companies like JP Morgan Chase and AT&T Inc.

Other contenders under consideration include Jonathan Kanter, who co-chaired the antitrust department in the law firm Paul Weiss and now runs his own firm, the sources stated. Many progressive groups prefer Kanter’s appointment because they push for more aggressive antitrust enforcement.

The names reflect the thinking of this Biden transition so far and could change as the vetting process moves forward, the sources said.

The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Antitrust authorities has emerged as a problem the Biden transition team has been paying attention to. For instance, a third source said the transition is prioritizing becoming a landing team into begin working on issues and that Arteaga may be a good fit.

Also, on Nov. 18, the Biden transition agency review staff for the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice held a meeting with outside moderate and progressive groups to explore antitrust policy priorities, based on three separate sources.

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A number of those extensive priorities discussed on the telephone included having more “aggressive” antitrust enforcers.

Other topics discussed during the session included reversing merger guidelines, retrospective evaluation of mergers, revamping antiquated competition laws and supplying more capital for national enforcement agencies like the FTC, the sources stated.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Translation from English to other languages via Google Cloud Translation. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington. Additional reporting by Diane Bartz. Editing by Diane Craft. Comment by Rob Phillips

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